How to manage requests for Sales Engineer support

In my organization, we've been working on getting a better understanding of the requests for presales support in our organization.  This includes knowing what kind of help is needed, how often and how much.  Until now, we'd been relying on the way our team would record activity against opportunities in our CRM, but not getting good information or even a control point in whether certain activities should go ahead.

In short we wanted 3 main advantages

  • Focus: Ensure that SEs spend more time on the best opportunities for the company (increase productivity)
  • Better Metrics: Understand how well activities requested & performed impact on the winrate & value gained (increase profitability)
  • Reduce Waste: Reduce effort in bad opportunities (reduce cost of sales)
So recently we put in a project to work out what the rules of engagement for requesting presales help should be, and a process that would allow the presales managers approve, reject and assign presales support to the right opportunities.

One of the risks of putting this system in, is that it could cause dissatisfaction on the sales team, in that they might feel like a wall was getting put up between the presales team and the sales representatives, who were used to being able to directly agree on the activity that would be done.  So we made sure to market this as a positive and more scalable way to the sales team of getting help from a HERO in the presales team. We also made sure that this didn't take away from their ability to collaborate in planning customer activity prior to making a request.

The implementation we went with meant that local presales management would see the requests for their local sales people and be able to review the opportunity details, and based on the rules of engagement, make a call on whether to approve or reject the request, or to ask for more information.  Rules are based on the kind of opportunity, customer profile, whether the request is for an onsite or remote activity and the stage of the opportunity in the sales stage. It was mapped into the sales methodology and process of the organization and helped reinforce the strategy of the company.

While our implementation is still in its infancy, it is clearly helping provide better information already (goal 2), and also eliminating some of the effort for wrong opportunities (goal 3).  It even has some additional benefit in encouraging sales people to have more complete information in their opportunities before requesting help, and ensuring that the sales tools are being used in a more complete manner.

Our efforts have focused around a tool called Hero by Vivun which is developed by former presales people specifically for presales!  Hero also has dashboards and reports on activity tracking, demo collateral and recording product gaps for discussing with Product Management.